Monday, April 09, 2007
Good News for Easter!
At least today, Easter Monday there has been at least one good piece of environmental news. The Kazakhstan government has secured a multi-million dollar loan from the World Bank to help save the Aral Sea; a formerly huge inland sea that because of mismanagement in the days of Russian domination shrank to only a quarter of its former size during the last third of the 20th Century.
Many years ago, as a child I was encouraged by my mother in a general knowledge and memory game we called "categories". We would choose a subject, say animals, and make an alphabetical list, scoring a point for every entry not duplicated by another player. Thus Animals might start with Antelope and finish with Zebra; while Seas would start with Aral and finish with Zuider Zee, which ironically is another sea that has virtually disappeared, though that was deliberate, providing the Dutch with more land for agricultural expansion at the expense of a former fishing resource. [Jan de Hartog's 1951 story The Lost Sea, tells a wonderful tale of his own experiences as a ship's boy during the last days of this fishery before the creation of the polders.]
With the Aral Sea, the Zazakhs plan to build a new dam to hold back water in part of the nothern area and there are reports of improvements already.
Please see also the 2003 report with its dramatic images of the sea from space and the photo of a former fishing village now 150km from the sea, with nothing but a salty desert between.